Economics, Energy and the Environment, Pethokoukis

The role of geoengineering in dealing with climate change


In his new book, climate scientist David Keith offers A Case for Climate Engineering. (I wrote a bit about solar radiation management recently.) He advocates spraying sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere where the particles would then reflect sunlight back into space. A bit less sunlight hitting the planet would help offset global warming from carbon emissions. Here is a bit from a Boston Review chat with Keith on how SRM pairs with reducing carbon emissions:

Geoengineering without emissions reductions just digs a deeper hole. Emissions reductions are a necessary part of any sensible climate policy.

It is possible to make big progress cutting emissions if we implement policies that include a significant price on carbon emissions and strong incentives for clean energy innovation. But while it is in our power to end the phony war on carbon and begin serious work to drive emissions toward zero, it would be extraordinarily hard to bring emissions near to zero in less than half a century, and even if we did, substantial climate risk would remain from the carbon that has accumulated in the atmosphere, carbon that will keep changing the climate for centuries to come.

Solar geoengineering provides a means—risky and uncertain—to limit climate change in the near term, risks that fall on vulnerable ecosystems and vulnerable human populations. But solar geoengineering can do nothing to limit the very long-term risks associated with carbon buildup in the atmosphere. Thus there is a sense in which emissions reductions and solar geoengineering are complementary.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis

2 thoughts on “The role of geoengineering in dealing with climate change

  1. how much sulfate aerosol would you need to spray to counteract the total anthopogenic emissions of CO2, methane and N2O?

    and how much would it cost to do this spraying?

    • This pseudo science has been debunked many times over.
      CO2 has been much higher on this planet. One has to go back more than 50 years of course.
      Here is a challenge
      for the “believers”. Look up limestone. Spend some time
      thinking about why there is so much of it in the mt ranges
      on the planet. It is even the top layer on Everest. It is formed in the oceans from atmospheric CO2. Golly! That must mean that there was an awful lot of CO2 in the last few million years. Discover why Greenland was named.
      Also consider the benefits of CO2. One might inform oneself about the amount of CO2 that volcanoes spew into the atmosphere each year. Anyone who does this just might have 2nd thoughts about the transfer of wealth to the backers of this scam.
      Algore comes to mind. Hansen??
      It never cost anything to question why someone wants another to drink some koolade.

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